Dear Ann Lamott- Thank You

Dear Anne,

That sounds weird. I’ve read your books for twenty years, and I’ve heard you speak three times, so Anne doesn’t sound like you. But Ms. Lamott is more formal than I’d like, and the Annie that so many call you feels like a boundary crossing. I can be kind of old school like that.

Anyhoo, I would like to thank you for:

A. Being You 

B. Writing those books that continue to sing like early 90’s R and B to me

C: Calling me out on my advanced proficiency in enabling, but in a non-threatening way with comic overtones.

I appreciate the times you have revealed yourself as is like my house that needs new windows on the front and all new doors. This has helped me to sometimes accept myself as is, even though I backslide into persnickety perfectionism. Perfectionism is the devil; for me she is a photoshopped version of me, 8.5 days after botox and right after a blow-out. A few pounds under from enabling-stress, or a colonoscopy too. She needles me and forces me into taking the pita chips out of my grocery basket, then she has a hissy-fit when she sees me in the Pure Barre mirror. God, she makes me miserable! But you are my angel, rescuing me from that kidnapper with your scriptures “So what. They are thighs,” and “80 percent acceptance is a miracle.”

So I went to see you last night in Charlotte, North Carolina (for all of you boo hissing North Carolina; I’m sorry. Some of us here are working on it, and we didn’t mean to offend you.)  I was in a horrific mood because it was far too cold and windy for April 6th, I didn’t want to drive to the Bojangles Coliseum (Go ahead— hold your abdomen as you guffaw. I’ll wait.), and when I got there, parking cost eight dollars. (!)  Then I walked in, and saw that no alcohol was served; a slow, stinging, sinus pain was on the way. And you, poor thing, were stuck in the delayed travel nightmare of southeastern winds and storms. So, the wait was on, but the always nice people of my church who ran the event handed me your latest book, Alleluia. Between that, my phone and social media, I was pretty good.

I sat for a while being afraid of the crowd of white southern women’s  book clubs with Christian undertones. I knew some of these people, but avoided them on purpose, and hid behind your book and my phone. It was that feeling of walking into the lockers of your new high school while everyone around you spoke enthusiastically in Finnish about all of the fun they were going to have. Without you.

I got restless; my default setting. My suede bootied-feet twitched, and I made quick plans to stand up and walk out. I wanted to smear the makeup off of my face with my turbo face cream, get in my flannel pajamas, and get on the couch with half a glass of pinot noir and the dogs to binge on The Americans.

Then the sponsor- church’s pastor walked onto the stage. Wow, it felt like a Sunday! And I love a full-on, traditional church service on a Sunday. I relaxed just a little into my chair. Then you came on and apologized for not wearing makeup,  or even a cute scarf. And there was Light.

So, here is my takeaway from your talking points.

Help is the sunny side of control. So, you singled me out. Like when . .

  • I offer to help my 18-year-old son proof-read a paper. Still, haven’t seen one.
  • I suggest industries for my adult children to pursue careers in. They haven’t.
  • I maintain and intricate set of familial subsidies. I think that nobody knows about these. False.

I know, I know.  I’m not helping anyone to learn how to fish.  I’m serving them a fully de-boned, wild-caught, broiled fillet seasoned with herbs de Provence.  Baby steps.

Codependence is the addiction to the potential of others. 

  • I have said, “He/she has so much potential” about family members, students, and friends so many times I have forgotten who has the potential to do what.
  • I tell myself that I’m a big picture girl, so I don’t need to see evidence. Or, I’m just afraid to see the lack of it from those folks who have all of that potential. 

Listen without giving bumper sticker advice.

  • I’m pretty good at not doing this because I like to listen to the many people I love. And, I’m not qualified to tell anyone a better way to do anything.  I also don’t want that responsibility.
  • I forget the bumper stickers

Forgiveness and mercy don’t mean you have to have lunch with that person. My challenge here is that I will gladly have lunch with the people who have:

  • cut in front of me in traffic
  • cut in front of me in line
  • shut doors in front of me
  • push in front of me to get on the subway
  • swipe the cab that was coming for me.
  • ignored my parental directives
  • passive-aggressives. In general.

I live part-time in New York, so I’m getting better at holding my ground. I thank you for the reminder that I shouldn’t have lunch with the above. Poof. I don’t feel guilty for giving them my coldest resting-bitch-face anymore.

I can’t keep saying thank-you again or you’ll get sick of me,  delete this, get up, and go on a hike or something. The immediate way you connect with all of us in your writing and from the speaking stage is beyond effective, and even more entertaining. Yes, I took notes on my phone while you were speaking, but I didn’t even have to look at them to remember your messages. Every time I read your books and after I see you I feel like I can be just Me. Being ok is nirvana.

It’s ok that I lost my debit card while gassing up, the second time I’ve lost it this year. And, I’ve lost all of the reading glasses that I bought from Marshall’s last month; so far I’m still here, so are the dogs, and the world keeps turning.

The world keeps turning no matter how perfect we are, the multitude of mistakes we make, and the wasted energy we spend conjuring up the potential of others. Thank you, for these always gentle, brilliant, and funny reminders.